Tutorial and Course Participation (15%):

Students are expected to be actively involved in lecture and tutorial discussions. I expect you to:

  1. Attend class regularly with the readings completed
  2. Make a conscientious effort to learn and explore course themes and concepts
  3. If you ever have a question, feel struck, or if anything arises – don’t hesitate to contact me.

Ongoing Course Blog (30%)

Rather than short assignments, we will write a series of short blog posts on the course blog. There are five required blog posts, each of which can be between 500 to 800 words. Blog posts are not essays – they are simply there to show that you’re playing with the material and showing off some of your results.

They are listed below, but for your reference they are:

  • Week of January 15th: Write an initial post just saying hi and why you are interested in the course. This is more just to make sure that we’ve all got blogs set up!
  • Week of January 22nd: Write a post about the three sites listed in the syllabus: what are they? What do they offer? Are they valuable? Representative?
  • Week of February 5th: Write a short blog post on the Science article, the N-Gram viewer, and the Mining the Dispatch site. What do you think? Play with the N-Gram Viewer and tell me about some interesting things you find.
  • Week of March 12th: Write a shot blog post on your early encounters with Python. How far did you get? Do you think this is a valuable approach for historians? Why or why not?
  • Final week: Write a short blog post revisiting your first post: do you still agree? What do you think of digital history?

Each blog post will be evaluated on the following criteria:

  • Clarity: Is it well written? Does the blog post follow proper spelling, grammar, and stylistic conventions?
  • Engagement: Does the post engage with the assignment? Does it demonstrate that you have used the tool?
  • Description: What is the tool?
  • Analysis: Be critical. If you are frustrated, if you do not think something makes sense, or if a tool does not seem useful, this is OK. If you think it is the best thing since sliced bread, this is OK as well!

Project Proposal (5%) – 250 words (one page, double-spaced) – due February 5th. For this, you only need to do the following:

  • What is your project going to be?
  • What sources will you be drawing on?

Final Project (35%) – This is a major research project for this course, but will allow you to pursue one of the six tools that you have explored in depth. There is quite a bit of freedom in what you want to do. The project is due on the last day of class, April 4th and should be the equivalent of a 8-10 page paper.


  • Research, establish, and write a historical website: Using Omeka or WordPress, create a small public history website. This could be of:
    • University of Waterloo topics: cataloguing public art, buildings, nature, and so forth on campus.
    • Local history: finding historical sites, plaques, etc.
    • Other (preferably something you love)
    • Here, you’ll be building on examples we discuss in class.

~ OR ~

  • Conduct large-scale textual analysis and share your analysis: In consultation with me, we can find a corpus that you could then explore using tools such as topic modeling, n-grams, voyant tools, and so forth.
    • I can also provide ready made corpuses, including historical plaques, historical books, and so forth.
    • The end result can be a historical paper (8-10 pages) or can be a website explaining your findings (similar to Mining the Dispatch).

~ OR ~

  • Carry out spatial research: With maps, in consultation with the library, me, or city resources, come up with a question. Can we map historical maps onto current grids? Can you make an interactive historical document using NeatlineYou could do one of UW, one of the local community, or elsewhere.

~ OR ~

  • Create a tool with PythonBuilding on our introductory Programming Historian 2 work, you could find a corpus online, find a way to spider the sources, and program your own textual analysis tools. As with above, you could write a historical paper (8-10 pages) which would note your own experiences as well as findings, or put this on your website.

~ OR ~

Something else! Come talk to me in office hours.

Presentation (5%) – Showing off what you’ve done!